Here at La Cueva del Fishful, we get lots of questions about tackle. Some are vague, some specific and I try to answer each of them with as much detail as the original question posed. If a guy emails asking “what is your favorite rod?” I send a general answer like “a 6’6” medium power spinning rod” because to elaborate more than that would have no real value; the asker didn’t provide enough information for me to add anything specific anyway. Beyond fishing, I have no idea what he actually wants to use it for.
The questions that sound something like “what is your favorite rod for crankbait fishing” or “you always fish Gulp! Minnows. What set-up do you use for them?” get very specific answers; those people are thinking about their fishing differently altogether than the “what is your favorite rod” guy. Given that my nickname is the Fishful Thinker, it stands to reason that I think long and hard about most fishing decisions, including tackle selection.
Now, before somebody gets mad, I’m no way, shape or form mocking the general question guy. The beauty of fishing is that we can enjoy it regardless of how seriously we take it and besides, I know folks that fish several times a week, usually catch fish and always fish the same rod, reel and line regardless of the species or location. They have as much fun as I do and spend less money too. Fish however you want, but for those of us that do see value in the details, let’s look at how I pair rods, reels and lines for some common multi-species artificial lure presentations. In short, I always consider what tackle characteristics the technique benefits from, then choose the rod, line, and reel, in that order.
I think all serious anglers should be comfy with a finesse jig. I say that because it is the most universal technique there is. Therefore, it stands to reason that the combo used for that should be well thought out. Finesse jigging means jigs in the 1/16-1/4oz range, precise presentations and subtle bites. That all adds up to a rod needing to be very accurate with the light weights and exceptionally sensitive. The line also needs to handle light weights without overpowering and therefore deadening the action on the jig, needs to let the jig sink easily and needs to be abrasion resistant because it’s often in contact with rock, etc. The reel needs a smooth drag to protect the light line, a large diameter spool and needs to be light in weight to balance with the rod.
Sooo, my finesse jig set-up is my best overall combo; a 6’10” medium-light power, extra fast action St Croix Legend Elite rod, 6# Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon XL, and an Abu Garcia Revo MGX 30 reel. The whole set-up weighs less than 10oz. The rod is exceptional; perfect power for an 1/8oz jig, long enough for distance and control yet short and fast enough for accuracy, so sensitive that I have total control of the jig at all times and with enough power to handle anything I may fool with it. The reel is equally fantastic; light and smooth beyond compare, excellent drag function even on hooksets and with a spool large enough to help the fluorocarbon handle well (fluorocarbon hates the tight wraps of small spools!). Trilene Fluorocarbon XL is more suppler than most fluoro and is designed for spinning reels. It resists abrasion well, holds knots very well, sinks to help the jig get down as well as maintaining a straighter line to the jig even when slack and has just enough stretch to allow me to “pop” the jig free if I snag it. Specialized tackle for sure, but extremely good at what it is designed for.
Another excellent, yet specialized combo is my cranking rod. Crankbaits are unique in that they are continuously wound, typically don’t cast well yet benefit, at least in terms of depth and have smallish hooks prone to loosing fish. Hence the rod needs to “load” and cast distance easily, yet be accurate and needs to be soft enough to cushion bites on moving baits with small hooks. Since crankbaits have significant resistance when retrieved, reels need to overcome it with gearing so the angler can still feel what the bait is doing on the retrieve.
My crankbait set-up consists of a St Croix Mojo Bass crankbait rod featuring fiberglass, as well as graphite to produce a blank that loads and unloads easily, offers tons of give when it gets bit and is longer than average, allowing long bomb casts. Its 7’4” long, medium power, moderate action and I pair it with 10# original Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon that helps get the bait down and has minimal stretch for good feel. The reel is an Abu Garcia Revo “Winch” with a very low gear ratio and oversized handle for overcoming water resistance of deep cranks. Here again, the system is specialized and highly effective.
These are just two examples. I look at fishing rod combos like golf clubs; a good golfer would not play very well without a club for each scenario and the rules allow them 14 clubs for a reason. Choose your tackle to fit your specific need and you too will score better!